Belfast Telegraph

No-deal Brexit warning of significant disruption to farming and tourism

If the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, produce coming from Northern Ireland to the Republic may be subject to tariffs.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)
Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister has warned that a no-deal Brexit will lead to significant disruption in farming, agri-food, tourism and fishing sectors.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championship, Ireland’s largest agricultural show, Simon Coveney said he wanted to reassure farmers that the government is doing “everything we can” to get a Brexit deal.

“(I want) to reassure them that if a no-deal is triggered by the British Prime Minister and a British Parliament well then we are putting a budget together in the next three weeks that can set aside significant financial resources to support vulnerable sectors during what will be a very disruptive period,” he added.

“I think we need to be honest about that, no matter how well you prepare for a no-deal there will be significant disruption particularly for sensitive sectors, like farming, agri-food, tourism, fishing and we will need to work out with those sectors, how best we can support them through that.

“The concerns and frustrations of farmers are very much foremost in my mind when it comes to Brexit discussions.”

Mr Coveney also said that the Irish Government will have to protect the Northern Ireland peace process and protect the all island economy at the same time if the UK crashes out of the EU.

“We have to ensure that Ireland doesn’t get dragged out of the EU Single Market because we can no longer stand over its integrity here in Ireland,” he added.

“Irish consumers wouldn’t thank us, Irish businesses couldn’t live with that situation.”

If the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, produce coming from Northern Ireland to the Republic may be subject to tariffs and some form of checking system.

Mr Coveney said, however, that no details have been agreed on how it will work or where it will take place.

He continued: “The reason why it is so complicated is that we are also trying to protect relationships north and south and recognising the politics of border infrastructure, which is something that people won’t accept given the history on this island.

“This is complicated stuff and we are trying on the one hand to protect Irish interests from an economic perspective, but also to protect a peace process and not create security risk that would take people back 20 years – which is where no-one wants to go.”

Meanwhile, Mr Coveney said that the ongoing beef dispute in Ireland is causing “irreversible damage to the beef sector”.

The former minister for agriculture said he is worried about the blockades at meat plants.

Protests have been staged outside meant producing plants across the country as farmers call for action over the price of beef.

Mr Coveney said: “I am concerned that by continuing a protest and blockade, we could see irreversible damage to the beef sector in terms of loss on contracts, reputation, undermining supply chains in a fundamental way.

“Beef is the heart of Irish agriculture and it’s in crisis right now, and on top of that we potentially have in six weeks’ time, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit which would put even more pressure on a sector that is already in turmoil.

“I understand the frustration, anxiety and anger of beef farmers, it’s not sustainable for them to sell their beef below the cost of production.

“We need to change structures in this industry. I think the deal that was done can be a very good start.”

PA

From Belfast Telegraph